Head of the Welland - Five Bridges Fall Classic

  • Hosted By South Niagara Rowing Club/WIFC


The Head of the Welland ~ Five Bridges Fall Classic takes place on the Old Welland Canal, known now as the Welland Recreational Waterway.  Over the last few years, the waterway has been slowly transformed into the Welland International Flatwater Centre (WIFC).  The Five Bridges takes place on the North Course of the WIFC.

Race Course Description

The Race Course begins just south of the old Thorold Road boat launch (end of Thorold Rd) with a naturally scenic 1.5 km stretch of open water running beside beautiful Merritt Island and over the Historic Aqueduct to the Civic Square.  It then proceeds under 5 (five) bridges travelling 3.3 km south through the heart of the City of Welland to the Finish Line on the North Course of the Welland International Flatwater Centre.

The first bridge is the Historic Main St. Bridge, with its towering steel frame, with the Division Street Bridge just 150 m away as you pass through the City's Downtown Core.  Opening up after the Division St. Bridge the Recreational Waterway then affords you a 750 metre stretch of uninterrupted water before coming to the Lincoln Bridge.  A quick pass under the main columns of the bridge takes you into the community recreation portion of the waterway with another 750 meter stretch of open water before having to navigate the historic Railway Swing Bridge and the Broadway Bridge.  The waterway then immediately enters the North Course of the Welland International Flatwater Centre and competitors have approximately 1.2 km remaining to make their move!

The Race Course can be downloaded as a (PDF format). You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader (available free of charge at Adobe) and/or you can watch a Video Tour of the course navigated from on the water.

There is but one way to pass under the Main St., and Railway Swing Bridge.  The Division St., Broadway and Lincoln Bridge provide for alternate passage under each bridge within the buoyed course and either passage may be used when one passage appears congested.

The exception being the Division St Bridge's East Shore passage which is out of bounds (as navigation is too tight).   Passing under any bridge improperly will result in a 30-second penalty in addition to any buoy violation penalties incurred by doing so.

The Race Course is bounded by a continuous line of orange buoys to the right (west side middle of waterway) of the coxswain and an intermittent line of yellow buoys on the coxswain's left marking diversions away from the shoreline. Where there are no buoys, the shoreline of the waterway is the left side boundary of the course.

All coxswains in the club events and coxswains who have never before raced in the Regatta are strongly advised to attend the Coxswains' meeting prior to racing (7:45 am - Hospitality Tent).

Bridge Traffic Diagram is available at the Head of the Welland website.